Climate hazards, including flooding, heat waves, sea level rising, and drought, have worsened over half of the hundreds of known infectious diseases in humans, according to a new study. These infectious diseases include malaria, hantavirus, cholera, and anthrax.
The study was published in the journal Nature Climate Change and looked at medical literature of established cases of illnesses and found that 218 out of the known 375 human infectious diseases were made worse by climate change. Although diseases have been connected to disease for some time now, this study shows how widespread the influence of climate change is on public health.
The study mapped out 1,006 pathways from climate hazards to sick humans. Some were cases of downpours and floodings that made people sick through disease-carrying mosquitos, rats, and deer. Another was the link between warming oceans and heat waves tainting seafood and other animal products. The study also noted droughts that bring bats carrying viral infections.
“If climate is changing, the risk of these diseases are changing,” study co-author Dr. Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Associated Press.
Patz, along with other doctors, says that these diseases need to be looked at as symptoms of a sick Earth.
The researchers also looked at all types of human illnesses to see if there were connections to climate change. They found a total of 286 unique sicknesses, and of those, 223 of them seemed to be worsened by climate hazards, 9 were diminished by climate hazards, and 54 were found to have cases of both aggravated and minimized.
Read our coverage on climate change, including why climate change is a top priority for young voters and the Green New Deal. Cities all over the world, from California to Vietnam, are facing a climate crisis, and millions of people are protesting all over the world.
The United Nations recently released a report warning countries about the dangers of climate change and has urged people to eat more plant-based as a way to curb it. We highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes, it is the largest meatless, plant-based, vegan, and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
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